De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 449 pages of information about De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2).

[Note 3:  One of the most inveterate of his enemies was Juan de Fonseca, afterwards Bishop of Burgos, who was unfortunately in a position to do Columbus serious harm.]

[Note 4:  Francisco de Bobadilla, commander of Calatrava.]

[Note 5:  The sovereigns made what amends they could for the abusive execution of their orders by over-zealous agents; they sent Columbus a present of two thousand ducats—­not an insignificant sum at the time—­and wrote him a letter, full of affectionate expressions of confidence; he was admitted to audience on December 17th.]



I have presented to you this immense and hitherto unknown ocean which the Admiral, Christopher Columbus, discovered, under the auspices of our sovereigns, in the guise of a necklace of gold, although, owing to the poor skill of the artisan, it is but poorly executed.  Yet I have judged it worthy, Most Illustrious Prince, of your splendour.  Accept now a necklace of pearls which, suspended from the former, will ornament your breast.

Some of the Admiral’s ship-captains who had made a study of the different wind-currents sought the royal permission to prosecute discoveries at their own expense,[1] proposing to relinquish to the Crown its due, that is to say, one fifth of the profits.  The most fortunate of these adventurers was a certain Pedro Alonzo Nunez,[2] who sailed towards the south; and it is of his expedition that I will first write.  To come at once to the essential details of this voyage, this Nunez had but one ship, fitted out at his expense, though some people claimed that he was helped.[3] The royal edict forbade him to anchor within fifty leagues of any place discovered by the Admiral.  He sailed towards Paria, where, as I have said, Columbus found both native men and women wearing bracelets and necklaces of pearls.  In obedience to the royal decree he coasted along this shore, leaving behind him the provinces of Cumana and Manacapana, and thus arrived at a country called by its inhabitants Curiana, where he discovered a harbour quite similar to that of Cadiz.

[Note 1:  See Navarrete, tom, ii., 1867; Gomara, Historia General, p. 50.]

[Note 2:  Also called Nino; he had sailed with Columbus on his first two voyages.  Oviedo, op. cit., xix., I, also describes this expedition.]

[Note 3:  Nunez was poor and only found assistance from a merchant of Seville called Guerro, on condition that the latter’s brother, Christobal, should command the one ship his loan sufficed to provide.  This vessel was only fifty tons burden, and carried a crew of thirty-three persons.]

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